The Sun is going to disappear from the sky in the US – before coming back again, almost five minutes later.
The eclipse is much longer than the previous one. This time around, the total darkness will last up to 4 minutes and 28 seconds – twice as long as a similar event in 2017.
It will also go through a more populated route, meaning more people are likely to see it. It will start on the Pacific coast of Mexico, before heading up and east: taking in Texas, Oklahoma and all the way up to New England, before disappearing in Canada.
An estimated 44 million people live inside the 115-mile-wide path of totality stretching from Mexico to Canada. About 32 million of them are in the U.S., guaranteeing jammed roads for the must-see celestial sensation.
The eclipse will allow many to share in the “wonder of the universe without going very far,” said NASA’s eclipse program manager Kelly Korreck.
Here’s what to know about April’s extravaganza and how to prepare:
WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE?
The moon will line up perfectly between the Earth and the sun, blotting out the sunlight. It will take just a couple hours for the moon’s shadow to slice a diagonal line from the southwest to the northeast across North America, briefly plunging communities along the track into darkness.
Fifteen U.S. states will get a piece of the action, albeit two of them — Tennessee and Michigan — just barely.
Among the cities smack dab in the action: Dallas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis, Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Montreal — making for the continent’s biggest eclipse crowd.
Don’t fret if you don’t have front-row seats. Practically everyone on the continent can catch at least a partial eclipse. The farther from the path of totality, the smaller the moon’s bite will be out of the sun. In Seattle and Portland, Oregon, about as far away as you can get in the continental U.S., one-third of the sun will be swallowed.
WHY IS TOTALITY LONGER?
By a cosmic stroke of luck, the moon will make the month’s closest approach to Earth the day before the total solar eclipse. That puts the moon just 223,000 miles (360,000 kilometers) away on eclipse day.
The moon will appear slightly bigger in the…